Another puzzle of the water world: why do all sea creatures swim in circles?
Explorers not only in Japan but all around the world who study aquatic life cannot find the answer to one of the interesting mysteries of the aquatic world. In a new article, published on Thursday, they describe their recent discovery. Namely, that various species of large marine creatures, beginning from turtles and ending with sharks and seals, who swim in circles for just no reason. The researchers say this circling may have several purposes for animals, such as helping them navigate or hunting.
Modern advances in technology provided scientists to see a full picture of how creatures inhabiting the ocean move through their environment with much greater accuracy than it was before. The researchers studied the green sea turtles movements during the nesting period when female turtles return to their place of birth to lay their eggs.
They removed the turtles from their nesting place to another location so they could watch them coming back. But as soon as they did it, they noticed a strange pattern: the turtles often circled at an approximately steady speed twice around, and then returned to their normal swimming when they returned home.
Therefore, scientists have collected data from other marine animals of a wide variety of species. And, of course, they found that the same behavior in a circle is constantly occurring. These spinning animals included fish (tiger sharks), birds (king penguins), and mammals (fur seals and whales).
At first glance, circling is hardly practical for the survival of these animals. So it apparently means it has several important points that are worth the extra effort.
For example, sharks seem to be most likely to circle around where they hunt. Meanwhile, other studies have shown that some whale species use group circling as a way to catch their small prey.
In at least one male tiger shark, the team observed proof that circling was part of a lovemaking ritual for the female. Seals and penguins appear to float most often near the surface of the water or outside of their normal feeding times, meaning that this is not part of their feeding technique.
In turtles, circling can help them reorient their skills in navigation based on smell, vision, and sense of magnetic fields. The turtles often circled before the very last leg of the journey, and even then for a while. One turtle was observed to complete a whopping 76 circles before moving on.
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